Skip to content

Boo You Huskies: Sixers Creamed By Wolves at Home

Dec 4, 2012, 10:06 PM EDT

http://www.the700level.com/images/956427.jpg

So that happened. Of all the many remarkable things about this 105-88
Sixers loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the most remarkable might be
this: Starting Minny frontcourt Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic scored a
combined 12 points. If you saw “Wolves 105, Sixers 88″ in a box score in
your local paper, you’d probably think “OK, that makes sense—Love and
Pekovic must’ve eaten the Sixers alive inside, since Philly has
virtually no frontcourt.” But no, just 12 points—and only 15 rebounds
combined too, so it’s not like they offensive-boarded the Sixers to
death either. How the hell do the Sixers lose by 17 to the Wolves—who,
by the way, are still missing about half their roster to injury—when
their primary advantage goes almost totally unabused?

Well,
hitting 13 threes helps. Though Love and Pekovic didn’t score or board
to their standards, that’s not to say they weren’t essential to the
Wolves’ attack—they set some massive screens with their big bodies that
the Sixers’ backcourt, particularly Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, found
absolutely impossible to navigate around, springing their guards for
some inconceivably open looks from beyond and elsewhere. (Not that Jrue
and ET necessarily did their best to get around them, either.) Suddenly,
the likes of Josh Howard, Malcolm Lee and Derrick Williams were
lighting it up—seven Wolves scored in double figures, and again, neither
were Love or Pekovic, their two leading scorers per game.

And
as the Wolves bombed away from three, the Sixers found themselves unable
to answer in a similar fashion. The sixth-best three-point-shooting
team in the league went 5-20 from three tonight, with the team’s
arguable two best deep threats, Jrue and Jason Richardson, combining to
go 0-7. (Remarkably, Evan’s hot three-point shooting continued tonight,
with the Extraterrestrial going 2-4 from deep.) Add to that a miserable
13-23 performance at the free-throw line, and the Sixers never had a
shot to keep up with the Wolves on offense, as their defense kept being
gashed for uncontested jumpers.

Now, to a certain extent, the
Wolves were just white-hot, and got a little lucky tonight—they entered
the game the worst three-point-shooting team in the league, so even with
a shambolic Sixers defensive effort, they probably wouldn’t make that
many threes most nights. (One from Josh Howard that bounced off and in
after the Sixers opened the third with a quick four points was
particularly back-breaking.) But the lack of fight from the Sixers to
contend on defense, especially in the first half as the game quickly
slipped away from them, has to be seen as disturbing, and certainly
Coach Collins thought so, forgoing his traditional opening remarks at
his post-game conference and expressing frustration and confusion at the
team’s lack of effort.

Looking for positives, the team’s
starting lineup again scored fairly well, with four of five in double
figures, and Evan Turner leading the way with 19, though he needed 20
shots to do it. You could see Evan’s jumper slipping away over the
course of this game, and his confidence along with it, looking
frustrated after just missing a couple good looks and badly missing a
couple free throws—never a good sign with Evan, who has been relatively
steady from the stripe this season. Both Evan and Jrue were guilty of
offensive stagnation tonight, and Malik and Zumoff were killing them for
taking too many quick jumpers in the half-court, without allowing for
any kind of play to develop. (Jrue ended with just 13 on as many shots,
though he did have nine assists.)

But it wasn’t really the
starting lineup that killed them in this game, at least not on offense.
The bench was absolutely miserable, being outscored by Minny’s reserves
57-22. As much as the Sixers could use the development of a young backup
point guard, Maalik Wayns has just been awful on both sides of the ball
in limited minutes this season, ending tonight with two points on 1-6
shooting. Spencer Hawes was nearly as bad, filling out the box score a
little in garbage time but failing to really contribute anything of
substance with the game actually on. Is this really the same guy who was
our best offensive player the first week or two of the season? How
could he possibly suck this badly now? Anyway, you’d neverthink the team
would miss Nick Young so badly, but somebody has to score off this bench.

Next
up, we have a home-and-home in back-to-back nights with the Celtics. At
10-8, the sky is hardly falling for the Sixers, but with two losses in a
row and the schedule only getting harder from here, Philly really needs
to win one of those two games against Boston to keep their head above
water. Otherwise, we might be heading for lottery balls sooner than
you’d think.